Senator Murray Statement on GOP Policing Reform Legislation

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the statement below following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to move forward with a vote this week on Senate Republicans’ JUSTICE Act.

“The overwhelming reaction to the deaths of countless unarmed Black people across our country has forced an earnest reckoning with our nation’s long history of systemic racism, as well as the pervasive problem of police misconduct and violence. Our communities are crying out for justice. These problems are deep-seated and complex, and all of us—especially elected officials—have a responsibility to respond to this profound moment with substantive and thoughtful solutions.

“Democrats have responded with one such solution: the Justice in Policing Act, which would take significant first steps to bring much-needed transparency and accountability to local law enforcement. The Republican alternative, unfortunately, can’t be called a solution—or even a step in the right direction. It wouldn’t come anywhere close to ending the kind of violence that took George Floyd’s life or Breonna Taylor’s life, or lead to the broader changes we know are necessary. Specifically, unlike the Justice in Policing Act, the Republican legislation does nothing to ban chokeholds or no-knock warrants in federal drug cases; it would not establish a national use of force standard or a mandatory national registry for police misconduct; it contains no efforts to limit or reverse the militarization of local police forces; and it does nothing to repeal the qualified immunity doctrine—one of the most significant barriers in our legal system to holding police who violate our constitutional rights accountable. This is dangerously insufficient, and ignores the well-documented experiences and recommendations of people on the ground who are most impacted by these issues.

“Put simply, the Justice in Policing Act is a desperately needed step toward change, but Republican leaders want to vote tomorrow on a bill that would largely keep things the same—and that would be completely unacceptable. The Republican bill cannot seriously be considered a starting point if the Senate’s true goals are justice and accountability. I’ve heard repeatedly from Black leaders, civil rights advocates, and constituents in my home state of Washington who rightly demand nothing less, and I can’t in good conscience advance a bill that falls so far short.

“Instead of wasting time voting on an entirely partisan proposal that would only reinforce the unjust status quo, I urge our Republican colleagues—if they’re as serious about addressing these challenges as they claim—to reverse course and instead work with Democrats toward bipartisan solutions that will help rectify the generations of harm suffered by Black people and other communities of color, and begin to upend our nation’s long history of police brutality and racial injustice.”